Congrats! ESPN College GameDay has announced they are coming to your university. Well, for football this week, they’re headed to South Dakota State University in the same town as our global headquarters – good old Brookings, South Dakota.
But what does that mean from a display operator or game-day producer perspective? For football, here’s what our event producers say can happen. College GameDay tends to be more hands-off concerning the video displays and the actual football stadium. More than likely, they will set up somewhere on campus with a picturesque background. The marketing team, along with the rest of the university athletics team, will be busy planning and executing the upcoming events for the week, but it will probably be business as usual for the operator.
From ESPN’s perspective, an operator will most likely be asked to play the College GameDay logo on the stadium’s video displays at some point before the weekend so they can capture some b-roll. Otherwise, there’s not much else they ask for.
For basketball, College GameDay provides a much more unique experience as the set, crew and truck are in the arena and not at a different location on campus. Similar to football – this will be an all-day affair where their crew will need total access to the building. Therefore, as the in-house producer, you are more involved. ESPN producers will work with your crew, marketing and facilities staff to coordinate the schedule for the entire day, load-ins and set up on game day itself. You will want to make contact with their production team as soon as possible to iron out the details that pertain to you.
For the actual show – the College GameDay set will be at mid-court with five to seven cameras on the floor. You will need to get a dedicated video feed from the production truck for your video board. ESPN will have total control of that display for the duration of the show and you should not have to worry about coming off that feed at any point for commercial breaks or features. If you have a ribbon board, scorer’s table or other auxiliary displays, you may receive stock ESPN graphics to load for those specific signs. On the audio side, ESPN will bring their own speaker clusters that will pipe in LIVE audio for the live audience. There may be a possibility you will need to get an audio feed from the truck but most of their required sound will come from their own audio gear.
When it’s game time, ESPN will do another very small pre-game show off the floor as your teams are warming up. This takes place about 30 minutes prior to tip-off with a small desk, 3-4 anchors and lighting. You should proceed with your normal pre-game activities and ESPN should not require anything on your end.
Halftime is very similar to pre-game. The College GameDay talent will come back to their small set, break down halftime and roll highlights from across the country. Again, they will be off the floor but will have a small desk, lights and three anchors but will remain live the whole time as opposed to tossing it to a studio feed.
The key to succeeding at College GameDay is people, A LOT of people. Keep in mind, these video crews are used to working with university staff and know what you need on the video and graphics side. The better turnouts they have at the bus arrival, Friday look-ins and pre-records, the more air time your university will receive throughout the weekend. It also helps to be super friendly!
So, South Dakota State University and the city of Brookings are in for an experience unlike any other in college sports. Gear up to support your team and make your way to the College GameDay set to see it all firsthand while you can!